The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted on Thursday a resolution slashing the number of peacekeepers to be deployed with the hybrid UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
The measure, introduced by the United Kingdom, comes after talks among the African Union, UN and Sudan’s government over an exit strategy for UNAMID. The resolution by the 15-member council also adjusts the mission’s assigned tasks and priorities. Here are the key elements of the new mandate:
- In the coming six months the number of troops in the mission will be reduced to consist of no more than 11,395 military personnel and 2,888 police personnel. This will constitute phase one of a planned withdrawal of about half of the current number of peacekeepers (now mandated at 19,248 total personnel).
- The drawdown will continue into 2018 after consideration of whether the ‘phase one’ reductions have negatively impacted human rights, aid access and stability in areas from which the peacekeepers are pulling out. Government cooperation with the remaining peacekeepers will also be one of the benchmarks for deciding whether the drawdown will continue in 2018. Depending on these benchmarks, the troop ceiling will drop to a further 8,737 soldiers and 2,500 police in 2018.
- The resolution reaffirms three ‘strategic priorities’ for UNAMID: (1) protection of civilians, facilitation of humanitarian aid, and the safety of aid workers; (2) mediation between the Government of Sudan and armed groups that continue to reject the Doha Agreement; (3) support for mediation of inter-communal conflict, in conjunction with the federal government, UN Country Team and civil society. Any tasks not aligned to one of these priorities are meant to be discontinued.
- The protection component of the mandate includes an authorization to deploy peacekeepers in high-risk areas, patrol around displacement camps and areas of return, and respond to threats to violence against civilians. The Security Council wants to see “a higher degree of flexibility in (UNAMID’s) military deployments… and enhance the field presence of individual police officers.” To ensure that troop-contributing countries dispatch troops that are up to this task, the UN Secretary-General is now to ensure that deals between the UN and the troop contributors reflect this need.
- Other tasks of the mission include building the capacity of Sudanese police in the Darfur region, including training them on community policing, and helping national institutions to carry out demining activities.
- The mission’s mandate also includes “extending state authority throughout Darfur” in connection with local conflict mediation initiatives. UNAMID’s role will be providing technical and logistical support to mediation efforts.
- Public human rights reporting will now be required of the UN secretary-general as part of his regular 60 day reports on the mission. This is an area about which UNAMID has previously been criticized for covering up abuses.
The full UN resolution is available below for downloading in English or Arabic: